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Research Article

Exploring How the Central Executive Works: A Search for Independent Components

Authors:

Siobhan Fournier ,

Laboratoire Langage et Cognition (LaCo), FRE CNRS 2725, Université de Poitiers, MSHS, 99 Avenue du Recteur Pineau, F-86022 Poitiers Cedex, FR
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Pascale Larigauderie,

Université de Poitiers, FR
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Daniel Gaonac’h

Université de Poitiers, FR
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Abstract

Although the central executive component of working memory has become a focus of theoretical and empirical interest, its functioning is still poorly specified. The present study explored the factorial structure of a comprehensive sample of executive and working memory tasks assumed to assess the main functions generally attributed to the central executive: coordination, inhibition, long-term memory retrieval, and planning. The aim of the analysis was to identify the various executive abilities underlying these functions. A principal components analysis revealed that several independent capacities contributed to the performance of 65 young adults on the selected tasks: inhibiting prepotent responses in association with long-term memory strategic retrieval, inhibiting distracting information, coordinating storage and processing of verbal information, coordinating storage and processing of visuospatial information and finally, coordinating different processing operations that do not involve storage. This pattern of results suggested the independence of certain control processes and supported the executive fractionation hypothesis. The results also suggested that a theoretical fractionation of the central executive functioning in terms of general functions does not correspond to an empirical reality and that more fine-grained dissociations should be considered.
How to Cite: Fournier, S., Larigauderie, P. and Gaonac’h, D., 2004. Exploring How the Central Executive Works: A Search for Independent Components. Psychologica Belgica, 44(3), pp.159–188. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb.1022
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Published on 01 Jan 2004.
Peer Reviewed

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